It may take a village to raise a child but it only takes two to tango. Or so you might think.

I’ve always found the tango mysterious and obvious, exciting and repulsive, liberating and vaguely fascistic. Really, all that slicked back hair, the quick quick slow slow rhythms. The locked gazes and perfectly still shoulders. All the while the hips slipping and grinding above the staccato of leather clad feet.

The tango — the perfect Latin expression of suppressed sexuality.

So what the hell is it doing in bars in the south of London? Well you might ask.

During my last visit to London I had the pleasure of spending a weekend or two with my wife’s daughter and her boyfriend. One evening they had a few friends over and it was suggested we all go down and check out the Tango lessons being given at the bar beneath our very feet. Why not? I had, many years ago, taken Tango lessons from a lovely Filipino lady in Yellowknife who had carefully explained the origins of the dance as a way to flirt under the watchful eyes of chaperones. Because the upper body stays still, in a crowd you can’t really tell what the lower body is doing. Ah, the folly of youth.

My dancing is generally described as — eccentric. I have a sense of rhythm, a well-defined one but my dancing is often to a different drummer than the one who is currently playing. Fortunately, Liz is a trusting and talented partner who can pretty much follow wherever I lead.

In any case we heard the music and leapt to the dance floor, much to the delight of the much younger members in our party. But wait, said the instructor, you can’t dance like that. You are disrupting the flow of the other partners. Indeed we were, or could have if we weren’t occupying the empty middle of the floor while the pasty English couples moved scleroticly in a tight oval around the perimeter. We were shooed from the floor.

Outrage ensued. Not from me. I’d been banished from much better places than this — and not for dancing. However, our table mates were furious and soon discovered that it was not our dancing per se that was the problem but rather the fact we had not paid for lessons.

We had bought a bottle of wine so we had to stay until it was done, glaring furiously at the rather sad folks following the stern demands of their English mistress. Then we went upstairs, put on jive music and danced as loudly as we could above their heads.

Take that Eva Peron!

And that’s ten minutes.


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